This international seminar combines the Great Books, Socratic approach of Gordon College’s Jerusalem and Athens Forum (JAF) honors program with the emphasis of the Gordon IN Orvieto semester program of experiencing art, architecture, and literature in situ—in their original settings. Students earn 4 credits by completing an on-line component before and after the two weeks of on-site learning in Italy. The program is also open to adult learners without registering for academic credit, whether or not they are affiliated with Gordon College. The seminar is open to current Gordon College students, alumni, and other adult learners alike.
DECEMBER 30, 2016 – JANUARY 14, 2017
JAF291 Harmony in the Cosmos?: Explorations in Western Music, Art and Architecture
In the classical world, music (theory more than practice) was one of the basic subjects of liberal arts education. The mathematical harmonies of music were understood as the key to the structure of the cosmos and to the well-being of communities and individuals – as well as to the formal beauty and inspirational effect of architecture and the arts. In terms of Tertullian’s question “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”, Christian thinkers from Boethius and Augustine to the Christian Humanists of the Renaissance generally found the pre-Christian classical views of music to be completely compatible with Christian theology and philosophy. This course (a) explores this central role of Music in classical and early Christian thought, (b) studies its relation to the actual practice of architecture, the visual arts, and music, and (c) compares pre-modern understanding of the nature and effect of music with the understanding and practice of music in our own postmodern age.
Course readings will be drawn from Homer, Pindar, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Vitruvius, Boethius, Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Shakespeare, Leon Battista Alberti and the Renaissance humanists. From our base in Orvieto, we will have ready access to dozens of examples of the formal expression of musical principles in the visual arts and architecture of medieval and Renaissance European culture.
We could hardly imagine a better teacher for the next Jerusalem & Athens Winter Seminar in Orvieto (JAF291) than Professor Graeme Bird, classical scholar and gifted musician.
All applications are due by October 15, 2016
Students: $3,500 (includes 4 credits tuition); $30 application fee due October 15; $450 non-refundable deposit due October 22; remaining $3,050 billed to student account
Adult Learners: $2,500; No application fee; $500 non-refundable deposit due by October 22; remaining $2,000 due by November 15
Professor Graeme Bird (Ph.D. Harvard University, B.M. Berklee College of Music), a native of New Zealand, is a polymath. In fact, he is a teacher of mathematics, but also a scholar of highest training in Greek and Latin language and literature, Indo-European linguistics, and early English literature. He enjoys exploring the connections between such diverse disciplines as Homeric poetry, historical linguistics, Greek mathematics, computer programming, and jazz improvisation. (He is a professional-level jazz musician.) As a participant in the Harvard-affiliated Homer Multi-text Project, Bird contributed a chapter to a a book dealing with a celebrated medieval manuscript of Homer's Iliad. His own book, a study of several fragmentary papyri from the three centuries before Christ entitled Multitextuality in the Homeric Iliad: The Witness of Ptolemaic Papyri (Harvard, 2011), Bird argues that these oldest surviving texts of the Iliad are authentic variations of the standard versions of the epic poem that reflect its long history as an oral tradition passed among generations. To watch a recording of Bird's performance-lecture in which he explains and illustrates connections between jazz improvisation and Homeric oral formulaic poetry, click here. His observation that "True improvisation has nothing really to do with 'making stuff up on the spot' but is rather the creative and inspired weaving together of previously rehearsed material" might serve as a motto for the view of a living tradition that motivates all projects of the Studio for Art, Faith & History. For Dr. Bird's outstanding scholarship and teaching, he received the 2011 Distinguished Junior Faculty Award. Professor Bird co-directs the Linguistics major and minor and oversees the minor in Classics. Links to several of Dr. Bird's essays and to performances at the piano can be found at www.gordon.edu/bird.
Professor John Skillen (Ph.D. Medieval and Renaissance studies, Duke University), is the director of the Studio for Art, Faith, and History at Gordon College, and senior advisor to the Global Education Offfice. He was the medieval and Renaissance specialist in the English department before inaugurating the Gordon IN Orvieto semester program in 1998. Professor Skillen's interests are broadly in the arts and cultural history, and the renewed relevance of moments in early European culture for the conditions of our present. He is also the co-founder, with Gordon alumna Karin Coonrod, of the Compagnia de' Colombari theater company, and, with Alessandro Lardani, of the annual Festival of Art & Faith held in Orvieto, Italy each June.